By CHRISTINA CARREGA, ABC NEWS
(CHICAGO) — After weeks of protests, the mayor of Chicago has decided to temporarily remove two statues of Christopher Columbus until further notice.
During the early morning hours of Friday, the Columbus statues in Grant and Arrigo Parks were hoisted off their pedestals after the city consulted with “various stakeholders,” according to a statement issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
This action “comes in response to demonstrations that became unsafe for both protesters and police as well as efforts by individuals to independently pull the Grant Park statue down in an extremely dangerous manner,” the mayor’s office said.
Protests sparked around the world after the May 25 death of George Floyd, which was captured on cellphone video and went viral online. The protesters, mostly led by Black Lives Matter activists, continued their case to end police brutality against people of color and propelled the call to remove the statues of controversial historic figures such as Columbus.
Columbus has been revered for centuries for discovering North America, despite his and his crew’s mistreating and murdering of Native Americans.
“Over the coming days, Mayor Lightfoot and the City will be announcing a formal process to assess each of the monuments, memorials, and murals across Chicago’s communities, and develop a framework for creating a public dialogue to determine how we elevate our city’s history and diversity,” according to the statement from the mayor’s office.
Lightfoot said all statues and murals across Chicago will be up for debate, not just the one of Columbus.
Nonetheless, some Italian-American residents in Chicago says the temporary removal of the Columbus statues are a form of betrayal.
“The Italian American community feels betrayed. The Mayor’s Office is giving in to a vocal and destructive minority. This is not how the Democratic process is supposed to work,” said Pasquale Gianni, of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, to ABC News affiliate WSL.
Sergio Giangrande, president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, told the station that their community is “very hurt.”
“Columbus is a symbol of hope we’ve all celebrated for years. Maybe we all forgot why we celebrate Christopher Columbus, and to take somebody who’s a symbol of hope from us, we’re not OK with that,” said Giangrande.
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